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Clash of the Personality Types: Sensing vs. Intuitive

Some people notice every little detail, while others seem oblivious. Some individuals are dreamers with their head in the clouds, turning inspiration into short yet furious bursts of creative energy. Others are grounded, very pragmatic, and prefer to focus on the here-and-now.


Those are some of the key contrasts between the intuitive and sensing personalities. These two types can have very different approaches to school and work, but each can learn from the other - and learn how to adapt to situations that don't play to their strengths.

The main difference between a sensor and an intuitive is how they process information. Someone with a sensing personality will focus on facts and details. They like to do things by the book. They are practical, literal people who put trust in their past experiences. Intuitives prefer to focus on the relationships and connections between information. Intuitives are creative, imaginative and theoretical people who often put their trust in hunches.

'This is what it says, so that's what it means.'

The sensing personality looks at information in terms of specifics and details. They remember facts and apply them in a logical manner. They are very realistic and look at the world as it is, focusing on the here-and-now rather than the future. A sensor trusts their established skills and experiences. They thrive on step-by-step instructions, enjoy practical solutions and have a great sense of focus.

Those who rely on sensing often prefer careers that allow them to work at a steady pace and to apply practical solutions to real-world problems. Working as an engineer or physician could be a good career path for a sensor.

In the educational setting, sensing individuals love courses that offer long lists of facts and information to memorize. They thrive on having a plan. Class projects that can be broken down into steps offer the perfect environment for the sensor.

Sensing personalities might have trouble with courses that offer plenty of latitude or creative space. But even in the midst of all that free-form scheduling, sensors can create their own set schedules and plans. Approaching a creative project from a practical mindset of goals and deadlines can help make the less structured courses tolerable.

'This is what it says, but that might not be what it really means…'

Those who are considered intuitive can take the same set of facts and interpret them in an entirely different way. They see facts as relative to the world and to each other, not as the bottom line themselves. Someone with an intuitive personality focuses on the big picture, sees what could be and looks for creative solutions. They love something new, especially learning new skills or absorbing new information. Intuitives like to figure things out for themselves. They will take information into account, but in the end they will often trust their gut instinct.

Individuals who rely on intuition can thrive in fields that require a clear understanding of the facts but still leave room for interpretation of the information. An intuitive person could find deep satisfaction in a career as a scientist, lawyer or architect.

In the world of education, intuitives might enjoy courses that allow for a maximum amount of creativity. They could be drawn to less structured courses or those that lead to spirited debate with a variety of possible correct answers and outcomes.

Intuitives chafe at those classes that require memorization of facts or clear-cut answers. Intuitives tend to work in short bursts of energy, so a long lecture class might be boring to them. A good solution could be focusing on a creative way to study, such as flash cards or word association. Recording the lecture class and taking notes later could also help the free-spirited intuitive handle the long stretches of information.

Working with the opposite personality type

Some sensors might see intuitives as impractical or lacking determination. They might interpret work in short bursts of energy as a lax work ethic. They might view intuitives as lazy or even as dreamers who focus on theoretical points rather than the practical ones.

On the other hand, intuitives can see sensors as short-sighted. Their concerns about the here-and-now can seem frivolous and their constant need for a plan can be seen as a narrow view of the world. Intuitives can feel stifled by the lack of creativity displayed by the sensor.

Appreciating the differences is the key to working well with the opposite personality type. By taking advantage of the differences, both types can thrive. For example, the intuitive might come up with the impressive list of possibilities for the future direction of the company, while the sensor takes that information and runs with the details necessary to make thing happen.

"Just the facts" and "I need context!" are two approaches that can work well in both an educational setting and the workplace. Finding ways to make those approaches mesh with each other can lead to a stronger, more productive environment.